How to Choose the Skincare Products

If you don’t have a strong background in Latin, or a degree from chemistry, reading the ingredients of a skincare product can be like learning a new language. This language is called the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, or INCI. It was created to create a standard language of ingredient names that can be used around the globe. Unfortunately, this is not a consumer-friendly system.

Manufacturers will sometimes give the consumer a little extra by putting the common name next to the scientific one, as in this example: tocopherol. Without that little nudge, a list of ingredients can look like a long string of unfamiliar words separated by periods.

In the age of beauty influencers, it’s easier to opt for products and ingredients that are popular. This is not always the best option. There is no single skincare solution that works for everyone. Jennifer David MD,, a dermatologist who specializes in cosmetic dermatology or skin of color dermatology explains: “What works for a friend might not work for you.” There are some products that work for everyone, such as La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer. This is our top pick for Face Moisturizer.

Finding the best skincare products for your skin requires an individualized approach. It takes some extra time and patience to do this, but the results are worth it.

We spoke to dermatologists in order to make this process easier. You can now feel confident as a consumer and avoid skin reactions in the future by using this information.

Discover your skin type

According to cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green MD, your skin type will determine which skincare products are best for you. Dr. Green says that there are no bad skincare products, but people with different types of skin can use the wrong product.

Different ingredients can cause breakouts or irritation in people with acne-prone skin and sensitive Skin. They should be cautious when choosing skincare products. Oily skin is able to tolerate a greater range of ingredients than other skin types. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mattifying Moisturizer, a moisturizing lotion for oily skin is a good choice for acne-prone people.

Here are some of the ingredients that Dr. Green recommends for different skin types.

For oily, acne-prone skin: Look out for products that contain alpha-hydroxy acids(glycolic or salicylic), benzoylperoxide and hyaluronic. CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser is a affordable facewash for oily skin that contains salicylic and/or hyaluronic Acids.

For dry, flaky skin: Choose products that contain shea butter or lactic acid. These ingredients provide mild exfoliation and hydration, which keeps dry skin radiant,” says Dr. Green. 2 3

Lipikar Wash by La Roche-Posay AP+, a drugstore bodywash with shea oil, is a great choice for dry skin that’s sensitive.

It’s worth visiting a dermatologist if you aren’t 100 percent certain of your skin type. When you know your skin type you can choose products more precisely.

Do not buy into the hype

Dr. David warns that “packaging and popularity can be easy traps, and we shouldn’t put too much value or weight into what we choose for our skin.” You should not just look at how their skin looks right now if you are going to purchase a product on the recommendation of a friend. Instead, consider what kind of skin that person had before. This will be a better indicator of whether the product is going to work for you.

There’s no need to worry if you have these products in your home cosmetics cabinet. They’re not necessarily bad for everyone. Backlash against some popular skincare products and brands can serve as a good reminder that just because something is popular doesn’t necessarily mean it’s for the right reason or the best product for you.

No matter how positive the reviews or ratings are, it is best to check the ingredients.

These ingredients are worth seeking out

Glycerin Dr. David describes this ingredient as the backbone of moisturizing product.

Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramides: Both are moisturizing ingredients naturally found on the skin. Dr. David prefers to use hyaluronic in serum form. She looks for glycerins, ceramides, and hyaluronic acids in creams and lotions.

L’Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C): The l-ascorbic form of Vitamin C is an antioxidant which works to reverse UV damage and stimulate collagen production.

If you’re looking for a luxurious hand lotion that combines Vitamin E, glycerin, and shea butter, Augustinus Bär’s The Hand treatment is a great choice.

Retinol: Resinol should be a part of your nighttime skincare routine. It stimulates collagen and turns over skin cells.

Niacinamide: This ingredient helps to control oil, while hydrating and evening out the skin tone.

Avoid these ingredients

Fragrance/Parfum: Additions fragrances may cause skin irritation and allergies.

Sulfates: Sulfates, a cleansing agent commonly found in body wash and shampoo. They can strip hair and skin from their natural oils and cause irritation.

Parabens: Parabens, commonly used in products to prevent bacteria growth, are a common chemical preservative. These chemicals are known as estrogen mimickers by Dr. David and industry experts. They can cause hormonal imbalances over time, which can be harmful. Both Dr. David, and Dr. Green warn that this could be problematic for children and women at risk of developing breast cancer.

Formaldehyde, and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals: Since formaldehyde is classified as a carcinogen, it’s not often found in ingredient lists. Dr. David explains it is often replaced by chemicals with different names (quaternium-15), which release formaldehyde as a preservative over time.

Natural doesn’t always mean superior

It can be comforting when you see familiar words on the ingredient list, but that doesn’t mean it is the best option. Dr. David, for example, explains that while poison ivy oil is natural, it’s still not something you want to use on your skin. Dr. David explains that he sees patients with natural essential oil reactions quite often. “Everyone is different, and you have to do what works best for you,” he says.

She warns that the use of terms like natural or organic on product labels can be a marketing ploy. These terms are not regulated, and there are no industry standards. They can make empty promises. 14 In addition, a product may be labeled natural if only one or two ingredients are listed.

Attention to the order in which ingredients are added

You’ll need to pay attention to the order of ingredients once you have identified which primary ingredients you want to avoid. Dr. David suggests that you look at the first five ingredient, as they will usually make up about 80 percent.

Ingredients are listed from highest to lowest concentration. If you see a potentially irritating or problematic ingredient listed among the top five, it’s best to avoid that product.

If you are looking for a specific ingredient in a product, but it is listed at the very end, that product will not be worth your money. You won’t get the full benefits of ingredients listed at the end, as they only make up a small portion of the product.

Fear not the long ingredient list

We are taught that when it comes to food, the shorter and more familiar ingredients list is better. Although a shorter list is easier to read, it may not always be the best for your skincare.

The list of ingredients will get longer when you are looking for anti-aging products or medical grade skincare. Dr. David believes that this shouldn’t be a deterrent. Call in to get a second opinion, either from a dermatologist of a technology expert.

Utilize your resources

It’s not necessary to be an expert in skincare to choose the products that have the best ingredients. Take advantage of online resources to make things easier. Dr. David recommends two online databases to research ingredients and products: Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep and CosDNA.

The EWG Skin Deep Database is only one of the online services they offer. The EWG, a non-profit group, is dedicated to research and education on environmental and health issues. Skin Deep is a database that rates and scores skincare products based on a variety of factors including manufacturing practices, potential health hazards, and more.

CosDNA, a database that is simpler, dives deeper into a product’s ingredients, revealing their functions and safety scores.

Always do a patch test

Patch tests are a smart way to eliminate products. It’s also a good excuse to visit Ulta and Sephora for free.

Patch tests can be used to determine whether certain products will cause an allergic reaction, irritate the skin or clog pores. “I think that the take-home lesson is: If the product makes your skin worse, or irritates your skin, stop using it. It’s not right for you,”

It may take a while to test all of your ingredients, but you will save money and time in the long run.

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